Massive reissue campaign for Depeche Mode’s core albums tallies a “dexuxe edition” CD and accompanying DVD for each.
It’s tempting to think Depeche Mode never reached U2 proportions because the way they used synths aggravated a fragile divide between rockists and the danceclub elite in the ’80s and ’90s. If it ever was the case, it’ll be exacerbated further by the design of this reissue collection. Anyone who never updated their vinyl or cassettes will benefit, no doubt, but everyone else will scream. Disc One for each of Speak & Spell, Music For The Masses, and Violator is a remastered volume of the original album. End of story. The bonus tracks, a total of 15, are only available on the DVD portion of each set. That means unless you’re skilled in the ways of ripping DVDs and converting them to MP3 or AIFF audio, your iPod these never will grace. Nor your car stereo.
Ah, the digital age.
(Barons of DVD technology will delight in the medium also hosting the original album transposed to 5.1 Dolby remastering and short films made by the band.) If you’re new to the game altogether, Speak is the band’s 1981 debut as a synth-pop act making headway in England’s post punk, new romantic minefield. It’s primitive and geeky, and hasn’t aged particularly well, unless you count “I Just Can’t Get Enough” as a group apex. Masses, on the other hand, was their 1987 graduation to the big time and Violator represents their druggy, early-’90s peak. Both are great places to start, if you’re not a stickler for bonus cuts.
Music For The Masses: 8
— Steve Forstneger